Cyn Thea Yu, a 2nd year MSci Biological Sciences, took part in the Eco-Soap and Paper-Making One-Off Event organised by Cody Dock for Welcome Week. We sat down with Cyn Thea to find out what her volunteering experience was like.

Could you tell me a little about your volunteering event with Cody Dock?

Myself and some other volunteers from UCL went to Cody Dock to make some soap, which will later be used at a Christmas sale in order for them to get funds to restore the area. We made about 7 batches of soap in total, and we got to name them all. My favourite was one that we called Taro Milk Tea!

I hadn’t done any soap making before, but Cody Dock made it really simple. We had soap bases, food-safe colouring, and essential oils. They really thought about the sustainability aspect of it, and how to cater to the most people, such as people with really sensitive skin.

How did you find out about this volunteering opportunity?

I was just looking on the Student Union page, and saw the Volunteering tab. I decided that now I’m in my second year, I’m going to explore a bit more of UCL. When I saw “soap-making” it just got me, because I love soap! I thought it was the perfect opportunity.

What was the most memorable part of the event for you?

I think that what really surprised me was that I got to know a lot about the area -- a lot about the Thames and its history, and about the people who live there. I learnt a lot especially about the dock itself, and its historical importance. In the dock, there were boats that families still live in, and there were workers there as well. So we really got to experience it as a modern piece of history. Cody Dock really emphasised the history of that area, and why it is so important for them to conserve it.

There was an art installation around the area as well. They had a bridge covered with drawings, as a way to revive the whole area. I also didn’t know that there are no museums in East London. That was something that I had never thought of. They really want Cody Dock to be revived as a community centre and to be used as a museum so that people really know about the history there.

There was also so much biodiversity there as well, which I found really surprising. There were birds everywhere! Cody Dock really puts an emphasis on sustainability. I think that’s the shift we’re seeing everywhere, so that was really cool.

Would you like to get involved with more volunteering after this experience?

I am definitely thinking to doing one-off events. I really wanted to try out some opportunities with regular shifts, but the timings wouldn’t work with my schedule this term.

What were you able to take away from your experience?

I learnt more about the city that I’m currently studying in. I am an international student after all, and I just really want to learn everything about London. I also met quite a few nice people there, and I have kept in touch with a couple of them more closely because it turned out we were in the same lectures this term this year, which was quite cool.

I also find it really nice to know that even if it was just making soap, it’s contributing to something bigger. It’s nice to know that it’s doing something.

Thank you Cyn Thea for sharing your volunteering experience! If you are interested in Cody Dock, you can get involved by signing up as a Dock Restoration Volunteer or a Conservation and Citizen Science Volunteer!

If you are interested in finding out more about One-Off Volunteering, make sure to have a look at all of the opportunities available in our Volunteering Directory, and use the filters available to find the perfect volunteering opportunities for you!